June 1, 2008
Photos by Quentin Ross; captions by Katie Esposito
May 24, 2008
Expected deficit is realized
By Sharon Bass
The school department won’t be returning any money to the town at the end of this fiscal year. It will have no surplus. In fact, it has a hole.
Some $821,079 deep. Next Tuesday, the Town Council will vote on whether to approve funding and amending the 2007-08 $74.1 million school budget to take it out of the red.
The deficit is all about special education, said Board of Ed Finance Chair Ed Sullivan. Those costs came in higher -- some $821,079 higher -- than predicted. There was an “influx” of special ed students this school year, he said, but was unsure how many more enrolled than expected or the total amount of the special ed tab.
“Every year it fluctuates. This was an unusual year. A big fluctuation,” said Sullivan. “It’s really hard to predict [the number of special ed students]. It’s an educated guess.” He said special ed enrollment can double in one year.
The $821,079 will come from the state, not the local coffers, said BOE member Austin Cesare. State school aid now goes to the town, which hands it over to the schools. Last year, the town auditors recommended having all education revenue go to the town side instead of the schools, because of financial record-keeping flaws uncovered during the audit.
“When the money comes to the town the town has to give it to the Board of Education,” said Cesare. “It’s a temporary deficit. I’ve been told that [the money] is coming from the state.”
School Finance Director Tom Pesce informed the BOE last November that there might be a budget shortfall because of escalating special ed costs.
“The minute we found out, we put a spending freeze on,” said Sullivan.
The actual amount of the deficit was learned less than a month ago, he said. “We notified the mayor and the [town] finance director as we are supposed to,” he said.
“Keep in mind that for ’07-’08, the council reduced [the school budget] by $500,000,” said Sullivan. “If they didn’t cut the $500,000, we’d only be looking at a $300,000.”
The Council shaved $300,000 from the $77 million school budget for 2008-09.
April 11, 2008
That's Ridge Hill fifth-grade teacher Larry Stein getting his head shaved this afternoon by one of his students in the school gym. Stein went to Ridge Hill when he was a kid. Nine years ago, he started a "change drive" at the school. Students search for coins in their homes by digging through sofa cushions, looking under rugs, cleaning out their piggybanks, etc., and bring it all to class.
The money goes to a charitable effort. This year the kids found more than $1,700 in pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters -- or 763 pounds of metal cash -- which will go to the American Cancer Society's annual Hamden/North Haven Relay for Life.
That's sixth-grade teacher Will Ortoleva about to experience his first head-shaving. Anyway, the two classes that accumulate the heaviest loads get to shave their teachers' heads. Stein's students came in No. 1 with 137 pounds of change. Sixth-grade teacher Kelly Wade's class brought in 61 pounds, thought to be the second highest (it was later determined it was fourth)..
Still, Wade's shaving honor was upheld. But Ortoleva stepped in and committed a chivalrous act: He offered to spare his locks for hers. Ortoleva said his girlfriend isn't talking to him at the moment.
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